Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Alien Helmets, Haunting Regrets and Definitely Not a Chamber Pot

The little antique shop down the street from me, Vintage Gifts and Antiques, was having an open house last weekend so I picked up a few things that were on sale. And a few that were not.

I've been looking for an old wooden ladder ever since I saw an awesome one at an antique store in Lafayette a couple of years ago. I can't find the picture I took but it was a 6' wooden ladder that was covered in years worth of paint drips and rust. It was amazing. And it was over $100.

This little jewel was tucked in a corner and I was afraid it might be someone's actual step ladder that they were using. When I pulled it out I was was SO excited to see a price tag on it! And I was even more excited to see that it was $25 and the booth was having a 25% off sale! I grabbed that sucker PDQ. I haven't decided exactly where it will live or what will be on it, but it will be fabulous I'm sure.

My second big ticket item (over $20) was this most excellent brass bucket. It's large and heavy and has a strange engraving on it that is either some kind of maker's mark or carved by aliens. I don't know what it was used for but it's definitely not a lidless chamber pot. I know this for sure because I would not buy a chamber pot.
Oh the patina, the patina!!
I see letters, numbers and a swirlie thing.

I nearly had to bust an old lady in the kneecaps to get this away from her but it would have been worth it. It's a very weathered table leg that will eventually be...a more nicely weathered table leg. Or something. I'm kicking around a few ideas. The shop had about a dozen different legs like this and they were being snatched up fast at $6 each.

I added a few more doilies to my collection. I don't care much for doilies as doilies but I do like some of the fun things I've seen made from them. I don't know which fun thing I will make but I know it will be fun. I look for the handmade doilies that are $1 because they have some kind of stain on them. I can almost always get the stain out.

I also have a small collection of those vintage folding rulers but I didn't have a folding yard stick so I picked this one up. Hey, maybe I'll display all of them in my new brass bucket!

I use little trays like this all over the place to set stuff on or to hold beads or art supplies that I'm using. The tag said this was brass but I knew it wasn't. It was only a couple of dollars so I bought it hoping that there would be a silver finish underneath. Sure enough there was! It appears to be plated nickel silver and it's also the piece I'm going to experiment with when I try the recipe I found for removing silver plating. Nickel silver and tin can be really pretty on their own and I prefer that to cheesy silver plating. 
Brass colored but not brass.
All cleaned up.

I bought these because they were unusual and I like them. Right now the salt and pepper shakers I keep next to my stove are a couple of Coronita bottles fitted with shaker caps that a most helpful waiter at a Mexican restaurant gave to me about 20 years ago. They went nicely with the set of jelly jar drinking glasses I used to use. I guess now that I'm almost grown up I should probably put grown up shakers like these next to my stove.

These live in my art room with glitter in them.

You hardly ever see a Mellin jar with its lid still in tact and they always cost more than the couple of dollars I paid for this one. This is the sample sized jar and the beautiful blue/green glass doesn't show up well in the picture. Containers are my friends and right now this one is holding the extra box knife blades I'm using while cutting slots into a stack of old books to make a floating shelf out of. I should probably put some Band-Aids in there too. And a tourniquet.

I normally don't give copper bowls a second look but this one caught my attention for  three reasons: First, it hangs. That makes it a convenient container. (See above container references for established relationship.) Second, it was etched with a tribal looking design. The design so totally doesn't go with my shabby chic house but the overall coolness of the etching was sucking me in. Third, it was tarnished beyond tarnish. It was almost Oompa Loompa orange. It needed my help. I knew it would be a challenge but $6 was a small price to pay for something potentially fabulous.

Had I known just exactly what it would take to clean this bowl I would have left it in the store. The tarnish was very firmly attached. It was almost like it was tarnish plated. It mocked me as I spent 3 solid hours scrubbing it with vinegar and salt, Brasso, Noxon and whatever toxic combinations of those things I could come up with. It ate 3 Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Even steel wool required aggressive elbow grease to get through the funky orange patina...which was more tolerable when I sang funky orange patina to the tune of Funky Cold Medina.

I knew the cleaning process would also remove the black from the etched areas but I wasn't worried about that since I have liver of sulfur to put them back in. However, I decided not to since the etching still shows up nicely and without the oxidation it blends better with my house.

There is something strange about this bowl. I'm not exactly a metallurgist but you really don't have to be to know that metals like copper and silver will naturally tarnish when exposed to air. This process usually takes some time. However...this bowl retarnishes itself almost instantly. I am NOT kidding. I didn't notice it until after I had cleaned the outside of the bowl and started working on the inside. After scrubbing for a while I flipped the bowl over and saw that the areas I had scrubbed so hard to get back to their natural pink were already turning orange again! And a couple of spots were even going to purple/black right before my eyes. Unlike the old tarnish, this new tarnish was very easy to clean off but every time I did it came back in under a minute. That just shouldn't be.

After I removed as much of the funky orange patina as I could, I quickly sealed the bowl to stop the tarnishing. Or at least slow it down. I had to do this in small sections: clean then seal real fast, clean another part then seal real fast, etc. It was a pain, but worth it.

So how does one seal metal to keep it from tarnishing, you ask? Well as all good domestics know, you wax it. You can buy pricey Renaissance Wax which I might do if I was going to eat out of this bowl but since I'm not some good ol' car wax outta the garage will work just fine. I prefer the Meguiar's spray-on liquid wax. I used 3 coats and the bowl was so dang reflective it was hard to get a picture of the engraving on the bottom.

I get the "Handmade in Columbia" and "Copper Art" part and I guess MT 6 is the artist's or manufacturer's mark. Or it could possibly be another alien stamp which might explain the instant tarnishing. Maybe it's not copper at all. Maybe it's special alien metal that can't breath our earth air and that's why it tarnishes so fast. Maybe it's not a bowl either. Maybe it's a hat. Next time you see a homeless person with his head wrapped in tin foil you will remember these words and understand how he got there.

I saw a few other interesting things that I didn't buy but probably should have. I really, really want this scale. It's the perfect size and color, it's worn in all the right spots, the pointer has a lovely shape, and I even love the number font. I just couldn't make myself pay the $29 they were asking for it. I'm going to wait a couple of weeks and see if it's still there when I go back. If it is, I'll take that as a divine sign that I'm supposed to buy it.

This lovely teal adding machine has been in the store for quite some time. I would love to have it because it's quirky and the color rocks but it's one of those things that doesn't have a purpose other than being decorative. I like things that have more than one purpose. I like things I can set stuff on or put stuff in or cover stuff with or turn into other stuff. This just sits there. It's going to have to try harder if it wants to come home with me.

I already have about a dozen of these but my hoarding gene makes me want more. Lots more. Like this whole tub full. And I think I need the tub too.

I'm not really into carnival glass but this pitcher caught my eye because it's the same color as the ram's head carnival glass bowl I have that used to be my grandmother's. They would make such a lovely set. Unfortunately this dealer failed to check eBay before pricing their pitcher at $65 instead of the much more reasonable $20ish going rate. 
Bad lighting in Harry Potter's room.

I think someone should go buy this frog jar right away. He needs a home. Just not MY home.

I saw this old Alka Seltzer bottle in the shop a few weeks ago and after much mental debate I decided I really didn't need it so I left it there. Now it's gone and I will forever regret not buying it. It's a container, I could have put stuff in it. Plus, it matches my house perfectly. And it was a measly $6. Why didn't I buy it?! I could have set it next to the adding machine, giving the adding machine the purpose of accompanying the oh-so-useful bottle. It's regrets like these that will haunt me until my dying breath.


Mel said...

I love your finds! I wanna go to that store...think I can work out a trip from Maryland to my hometown of Houston? :) I've been looking for a folding yardstick for a while now!

Amber said...

What amazing finds! I love your ladder! You've reminded me my husband took an old wooden ladder out to our well house in the back yard (I need to get it back ASAP).

Shannon Green said...

Mel, I do believe you're due a trip home! I never leave this little shop empty handed. They have some great stuff and really good prices.

Shannon Green said...

Holy cow Amber, RUN!! Run to the well house and don't look back! Then go paint something so you can splatter all over it. A ceiling would be good.

Nicole [The Lovely Poppy] said...

love the jar! i'm stopping over from tip junkie and would love to have you stop by my blog and check out our huge giveaway going on- http://thelovelypoppy.blogspot.com/2011/10/blog-follower-giveaway.html xoxo nicole

D.E. said...

Love all your finds! Lovely blog.
Blessings, DE

SkylersDad said...

I remember those old Alka-Seltzer bottles, they were pretty cool.

Leigh said...

What awesome finds! I am in The Build Zone with you, and at first I thought you were going to say you were using the tray to solder on top of!!!

Shannon Green said...

What an excellent idea, Leigh!! :)

Katalina Jewelry said...

You found some great items! I've never heard of Mellin jar before but I think they're pretty cool!

very merry vintage style said...

Great finds! Thanks for linking up to Share the Love Wednesday!